Roy­als squan­der chances as Rebels win

Times Colonist - - Sports - RED DEER 5 VIC­TO­RIA 3 CLEVE DHEENSAW

That sound you heard Tues­day night at Save-on-Foods Me­mo­rial Cen­tre was the Vic­to­ria Roy­als prob­a­bly fall­ing out of the Cana­dian Hockey League top-10 for the first time in eight weeks when the new rank­ings come out today.

With it will come a grow­ing cho­rus of whis­pers that maybe the Roy­als aren’t as good as their start to the sea­son sug­gested.

The pre­vi­ously-reel­ing Red Deer Rebels snapped a six-game los­ing streak with a 5-3 WHL vic­tory over the Roy­als, who squan­dered a 3-2 third-pe­riod lead at home. The Roy­als (14-17-1) have now lost two con­sec­u­tive games for the first time this sea­son.

“Un­ac­cept­able and fun­da­men­tals,” said Roy­als head coach Dan Price, in his terse de­scrip­tion of the loss.

“There was poor ex­e­cu­tion of fun­da­men­tals in the third pe­riod, es­pe­cially re­gard­ing shoot­ing ver­sus pass­ing on the power play and back check­ing and de­fen­sive zone cov­er­age. That’s a tough les­son for the play­ers in front of their home fans.”

Re­gan Nagy put the Roy­als ahead 3-2 with his 17th goal of the sea­son at 5:15 of the third pe­riod on one of the few times Vic­to­ria shot on the power play rather than en­gage in need­less over-pass­ing.

“It’s ob­vi­ously not good enough. We have to learn from this,” said Nagy.

The first pe­riod was score­less af­ter Roy­als for­wards Ryan Peck­ford, Matthew Phillips, Dante Han­noun and Tyler Soy all fanned on what looked to be sure goals. That fin­ish­ing touch, which el­e­vated the Roy­als to be­ing the high­est-scor­ing team in the league, has van­ished faster than Vic­to­ria sun­shine.

The Roy­als also lost 4-1 Satur­day to the Van­cou­ver Giants in a game they dom­i­nated in shots but in which they could not pro­duce goals.

“My line could have had eight or nine goals tonight,” said Cal­gary Flames-prospect Phillips.

“We got some chances that usu­ally go in. In the last two games, they just didn’t go in. It’s un­lucky. You want to see those go in but it’s not the end of the world. We can’t get too frus­trated and dwell on it be­cause that turns to neg­a­tiv­ity. It’s early [in the sea­son]. We’ve got a cou­ple of days to turn it around and take own­er­ship of it and push our­selves.”

Three unan­swered goals to end the third pe­riod by Red Deer won it. The fine for­ward Ma­son McCarty made it 3-3 at 12:18 and then as­sisted on Reese John­son’s game win­ner at 14:52. Lane Zablocki put it away with an empty-net­ter.

A Jeremy Masella turnover al­lowed Red Deer’s Austin Pratt to open scor­ing at 3:02 of the sec­ond pe­riod fol­lowed by some more lax Vic­to­ria de­fen­sive play to al­low the Rebels to go ahead by two on Kris­tian Re­ichel’s goal. Phillips fi­nally solved goal­keeper Ri­ley Lamb to pull Vic­to­ria to within one goal later in the mid­dle pe­riod.

Vic­to­ria lev­elled 2-2 when Jared Legien took an as­tute head­man pass from Eric Florchuk to slide it in at 2:07 of the third pe­riod.

It doesn’t get any easier for Vic­to­ria, who must now at­tempt to snap out of their malaise in Spokane on Fri­day night against a Chiefs team that now has Kailer Ya­mamoto back from the Ed­mon­ton Oil­ers. That is fol­lowed on Satur­day with a game in Tri City against the CHL top-10 ranked Amer­i­cans.

The Roy­als’ Tyler Soy takes a shot on Red Deer Rebels’ goal­tender Ri­ley Lamb as Jack Fla­man, left, dives to try and block the shot dur­ing their WHL game at Save-On-Foods Me­mo­rial Cen­tre on Tues­day.

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